We performed a synthetic review of the ecological and evolutionary impacts of marine reserves, integrating research across multiple levels of ecological response (population, community and evolutionary) and scientific approach (empirical and theoretical). We found that there is consistent evidence that reserves can increase individual size, biomass and reproductive output of harvested species within reserves. The biodiversity of harvested species within reserves is also increased by these spatial closures. There is emerging evidence providing preliminary indications that reserves may decrease variability in abundance of harvested guilds, increase genetic diversity, and protect against fisheries-induced evolution.
We showed that there are still large gaps in empirical evidence for many of the community and evolutionary effects of reserves, yet we do have many general expectations for these responses based on theory and preliminary experiments or observations. Comparison of theoretical expectations and observations will go a long way to furthering our understanding of how reserves may contribute to the attainment of conservation and management goals.
Baskett, ML, & LAK Barnett. 2015. Ecological and evolutionary consequences of marine reserves. Annual Reviews in Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 46. http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-ecolsys-112414-054424
What 1458 studies have to say about the impact of marine reserves – California Sea Grant
Are marine reserves working? – Hakai Magazine